Citigroup to post US$2.7b in added legal costs in Q4: CEO

[LONDON] Citigroup Inc will record US$2.7 billion in litigation expenses and another US$800 million in repositioning charges, leaving the third-largest US bank "marginally profitable" in the fourth quarter, its chief executive officer said on Tuesday.

Mike Corbat's announcement at a New York investor conference was the second time in six weeks the bank has had to tack on a massive legal charge.

The costs stemmed from government investigations into possible manipulation of foreign exchange markets, setting of LIBOR interest rates and lax compliance of money laundering rules. Past legal charges have foreshadowed settlements of cases.

Before the announcement, analysts had expected Citigroup would make about US$3.4 billion in the fourth quarter, instead of a small profit.

While dealing with legal problems, Mr Corbat has been trying to meet his profit and efficiency targets for next year. He was appointed CEO in 2012.

He is also pressing for Federal Reserve approval next year to return more capital to shareholders through higher dividends and stock buybacks. The Fed rejected Citi's last request after examining how the company would manage risk to its capital under stress.

Since Mr Corbat became CEO, Citigroup has reduced its payroll by 20,000 jobs. It employed 243,000 at the end of September.

It has also cut its real estate by 10 million square feet, or 15 percent, he said. The company has been closing bank branches, consolidating back-office support centers and getting out of consumer businesses that are too small to be efficient in some countries.

With the US$2.7 billion in legal charges, the company has"largely" covered its expected liabilities, Mr Corbat said.

Repositioning charges will be lower next year, he said. The new US$800 million charge was about twice as much as Citigroup has recorded in recent quarters.

Mr Corbat said he and Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach saw opportunities to "go ahead and pull some restructuring and repositioning forward" when they went through the fourth-quarter budget.

On Oct 30, Citigroup reduced third-quarter results because of an additional US$600 million in legal costs. The change took Citigroup's third-quarter profit down to US$2.84 billion.

Corbat also said he expects fourth-quarter revenue from capital markets trading to be down about 5 percent from a year earlier. Interest rate spreads and foreign exchange rates moved sharply in the first few weeks of the quarter and "we didn't escape that," Mr Corbat said.

Citigroup stock closed down nearly 1 per cent to US$55.85.


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